• Alex Mae

Becoming the Hero

Updated: Jun 3


Becoming the Hero, Written Series

I remember my doodles from childhood and wish beyond almost anything that I still had some of them. My art wasn't nurtured and I ended up ashamed of it. For several decades I longed to try again yet lacked the courage. Thankfully, that changed. While my visual art is where I am most raw, I cannot always live in that space. If you know me, you know I was also born with the gift of gab. I'm not shy with my opinions or ideas. My thirst for knowledge and connection can be intense. When I have an audience, I will communicate until I've exhausted everyone around me. I'm fortunate that I have friends who love me and several healthy outlets with which to express myself.

Writing is my first love. My safe space.

The place where I don't have to worry about exhausting anyone or reading social cues to make sure I'm staying within the bounds of etiquette. If a write something I'm not prepared to share, I don't have to share it. If I open up before I'm entirely ready and expose parts of myself that aren't quite healed, only I know. If the reader decides the content is overwhelming, they can close the browser window. Safe. A space I can breathe and just be.

My original intention with this blog was to showcase my visual art and write about its impact on my life. I will continue to do that. Combining my visual and written creativity fulfills me in ways I never would have thought possible a few years ago. I am adding a written series to this blog that chronicles the normal day to day ways I became, and continue to grow into, the hero of my life. Turns out, that's what a hero is. Someone who chooses through small and seemingly insignificant choices to bravely be the truest and best version of themselves possible.

One of my favorite quotes is, "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”― Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo. Twenty seconds to stick up for yourself. Twenty seconds to apply for a job. Twenty seconds to set a boundary. Twenty seconds to ask for a raise. Twenty seconds to leave an unhealthy relationship. Twenty seconds to start a blog. Twenty seconds to join a march. Twenty seconds to sit with your emotions. This list could go on forever because while we think of bravery as a heroic act that saves countries - and of course it can be - more often than not, it's small choices that in the moment felt insurmountable.

My life is filled with opportunities of self bravery and heroism both lost and embraced. We are all both a hero and a villain in our lives. After years of allowing villains to control my story, I made one of the most important choices of my life about three years ago. It was the bravest thing I had ever done in my life and it started with a declaration to myself, god, the universe, anyone who was listening. After yet another harrowing evening of being torn to shreds emotionally I stood alone in my bedroom and said aloud the words,

"I choose divorce. Not suicide."

Making that choice and uttering it out loud was an act of courage that I didn't know I was capable of. I was stunned by my bravery. It was the moment I regained my power and became my own hero. From that moment on I've gained strength and choosing self heroism has become easier. I still have moments of self villainy. When those come along, I make sure to do the courageous thing and be gentle with myself. Forgive myself. If you ask me, forgiving ourselves is one of the greatest acts of self heroism there is.

This last year has been exhausting. Mentally, physically, emotionally. Thankfully, I hadn't become the villain again. At least not on a large scale. It just was. If there was a lesson to be learned it was patience and self care. It started with a staph infection from a tiny cut on my toe that entered my blood stream and took months, several antibiotic treatments - including one I had a serious allergic reaction to -, and placed my body and immune system in a compromised state. That lead to the first of five miscarriages which were accompanied by chronic mono, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm a passionate go getter. Slowing down meant defeat and laziness. This year has been a year of learning that sometimes the most heroic thing we can do is stop. Stop, and just be.

I kept trying to find the "problem" so I could implement a quick solution and be up and running again. As it turns out, sometimes there is no quick fix. No pill, drink, meditation, diet, oil, mantra, etc. that will make everything better overnight. Much to my chagrin, it was time and ongoing self care. Twenty seconds of allowing myself to just be. Twenty seconds of allowing my body to be sick without assigning shame or blame. Twenty seconds of addressing the voices delivering messages of unworthiness and replacing them with messages of love.

It's been a hard lesson learned. Slowing down is not something I enjoy. I've learned a lot about myself this last year. I've uncovered a lot of deep pain and trauma that may not have seen the light of day any other way. While I did not enjoy the journey while in it, I can look back and see the growth.

As my body has regained strength over the last few weeks I've had an onslaught of inspiration, including this idea. I'm excited to grow my business, continue my education, expand my family, and continue to grow in heroism and acts of bravery.

I am my hero.

*Photos by Cat Palmer Photography

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